LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – First time Palarong Pambansa gold medalist Marjun Sulleza from Koronadal City, South Cotabato is one of the many faces of young athletes in Palaro who play to give their families a better life.
Rappler met him last Wednesday afternoon, April 13, at the Soccsksargen quarters. Sulleza just won his first gold medal that morning in the secondary boys 400-meter hurdles and even came close to breaking last year’s record.
Before the interview, Rappler spoke with the boy who was all-smiles all throughout. But the moment he was asked about his inspiration in running, the 16-year-old athlete turned silent before he suddenly broke out into tears.
“Pamilya po (My family),” he stuttered.
“Umangat lang kami sa kahirapan (I want us to get out of poverty),” the boy added.
Sulleza is the eldest of two children whose parents are rice farmers in Cotabato. According to him, his father has been having difficulties in farming because of the El Niño that agricultural parts of the country have been suffering in the past weeks.
The Grade 10 student from the Koronadal National Comprehensive High School was a silver medalist at last year’s Palaro in the 400-meter hurdles. He also clinched the gold in the 2015 Batang Pinoy under the same category.
His cash incentive from last year’s Palaro served as his family’s down payment for their residential lot. He aims to build his family a home with the help of the cash incentive he’ll receive this year.
According to the Department of Education, gold medalists get P 3,000. While silver and bronze medalists will receive P1,500 and P750, respectively.
‘Make family your inspiration’
He said young athletes like him should always keep in mind what they are playing for. In fact, he has some advice to young athletes like him who compete for a prize.
“Train hard tapos huwag makuntento, tapos gawing inspirasyon ang pamilya.” (Train hard and never be contented, then make your family your inspiration.)
True enough, Sulleza trained hard to clinch that first gold medal. He spent 5 hours a day in training for his preparation ahead of Palaro.
“Masaya kasi palagi akong talo dati. Masaya ako kasi nakapag gold medal na ako,” he said of his past frustrations. (I’m very happy because I always lost before. I’m very happy that I’ve finally bagged a gold.)
Aside from building his family a home, his other dream is to play for the national team one day.
As of now, Sulleza has already received a couple of recruitment offers from National Collegiate Athletic Association school members like Colegio de San Juan de Letran, San Beda College, and Emilio Aguinaldo College. He hasn’t made any decision yet as of the moment.
This young runner makes sure that recognition comes second to winning for the sake of his family.
“Gusto ko din pong tumaas ‘yong pangalan ng pamilya namin.” (I really want to give honor to our family name.) – Rappler.com
More 2016 Palarong Pambansa stories:
- Not just sports: Mimaropa’s ‘Clean and Green’ program at Palaro
- Blind Palaro athlete has clear vision for future
- Born without hands or feet, a young athlete dives into his first Palaro
- Two Dumaguete City archers take home gold, silver medals
- Palaro ARMM athletes learn real life values from arnis
RECAPS AND MEDAL TALLIES:
- NCR wins 12th straight overall Palarong Pambansa crown
- 8 records fall at Palaro 2016
- NCR cops secondary boys football title in heated Palaro final
- NCR trounces Calabarzon for back-to-back secondary girls volleyball title
- Calabarzon defeats Central Luzon to win Palaro secondary basketball title
- Janel Maraguinot, sis of Ateneo’s Jhoana, is Palaro Best Setter
- Negros Island earns bronze in secondary girls volleyball
- Central Visayas sweeps NCR to retain Palaro badminton doubles title
- Mimaropa bags gold in Palaro elementary boys double takraw
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